INDIANAPOLIS – Marissa Coleman began the 2015 WNBA season with a self-initiated challenge. Make the All-Star team, she told herself.
Eight games into the season, Coleman is pushing toward her goal.
She leads the Indiana Fever’s fast-paced offense in field goals, scoring and minutes played. Coleman ranks 12th in the league in 3-point percentage (36.7) and 14th in points per game (13.6).
The 6-foot-1 forward embraced her aspirations and is performing with unmistakable confidence.
“From Day One, she’s been totally different,” Fever Coach Stephanie White said. “She’s been more vocal, more confident, more empowered. She’s more mature. She’s becoming a leader. She believes in herself and her talent level.”
Coleman, 28, has been a consistent bright spot in her second year with the Fever (3-5).
The University of Maryland product is turning in performances that many, including herself, envisioned when Washington made her the No. 2 overall selection in the 2009 WNBA draft. At Maryland, she became the first player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists, 200 steals and 100 blocked shots.
However, during her first five WNBA seasons in Washington and Los Angeles, Coleman and her teams struggled to mesh. Some viewed her mainly as a spot-up shooter. Some, she said, “didn’t really think you could do certain things and were putting you in this box.”
Coleman craved something better. She wanted to play like she did in college – in full attack mode.
Coleman showed signs of her old self last year with the Fever, averaging a career-high 8.9 points, including 20 in a victory over Washington. Then she played in Turkey this past winter, averaging 16.7 points and 7.6 rebounds while taking additional positive strides as a ball-handler.
When she returned to Indiana in mid-May, noting the Fever’s shifting offensive approach and her own growing self-image, she pictured what could become a breakout year.
“I feel like I’m on my way to that,” Coleman said this week. “I’m excited. I’m feeling really good. It’s easy to think this is going to be that season for me when I’m surrounded by people who, I know, have confidence in me. That goes a long way.
“A lot of the things that I’m getting back to doing now are things that I’ve been good at all my life.”
She also continues to perform with a resilience that has enabled her to play in every one of her teams’ regular-season games over the last five-plus WNBA seasons. For women like Coleman, who play year-around basketball here and overseas, that’s uncommon reliability.
“Any coach, in any sport at any level, likes the tough players,” Coleman said. “So, yeah, I’ve always prided myself on being one of the tougher players on whatever team I’m on.”
With her aspirations of making the Eastern Conference All-Star team in mind, Coleman also is playing fearlessly within the Fever’s free-flowing scheme. She goes into every game with an unequivocal zeal. She thoroughly enjoys her teammates.
“I always feel super blessed and lucky to be able to play this game,” Coleman said. “But some of the fun was gone (before the Indiana move). It’s not as fun when you know you can give so much more and you’re not allowed to do that. This is definitely the most fun I’ve had playing in the WNBA, hands down.”
More fun, increased confidence, elevated production – it’s all part of Coleman’s impressive start this year.